Online courses

As a SciLinks webwatcher, I spend time every week looking for and reviewing websites on a variety of science topics. I recently came across several biology videos on the Education Portal website. The site promotes itself as a way to earn college credits online, but I was more intrigued by its other purpose: “take free courses.”

The science offerings include AP exam prep/reviews, several courses in biology and mathematics, and courses in chemistry, earth science, and environmental science. The introduction to the courses includes the big ideas, a list of objectives, and a mini-biography of the instructors, who are scientists and educators. Each course is organized into chapters with a set of narrated videos (the ones I looked at were less than 10 minutes in length) that include a full transcript of the narration and a brief multiple-choice quiz with feedback. For some of the courses, there are chapter exams and a final. The videos are not talking heads; they feature animations, diagrams, and vocabulary.

The individual videos could be used in the classroom or viewed at home. No special software or plugins are required and there are no ads. I looked at several videos on an iPad, and they seemed to work well on that platform, too.

I could see interested students taking advantage of these courses as a supplement for topics that are not often part of the curriculum (e.g., microbiology, anatomy and physiology), for independent study, to review basic concepts, or to get a jump start on a course offered at school.

Teachers might be interested in the course resources to supplement their instruction or the traditional textbooks, as a way to offer additional or alternative units of instruction, to review content topics themselves, or as part of a flipped classroom.



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One Comment

  1. James De Vos
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve gone through several of these “free” courses. Excellent stuff and well explained. These are great for students to review or to help students who have been missing for a couple of days and need an online “catch me up.” Thanks for the post and information!

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